04 December, 2008

Rustic Lamb and Pear Casserole

On the rare, drizzly Spring day in South Australian, one is inspired to forget that the seasons are reflected in this hemisphere, and that forgetfulness allows you to pretend your way back to Autumn with its rich, hearty flavors.

Today was just such a day. The fridge, bursting as it was with veggies soon to go off, tempted me into satisfying my craving for a meaty, sweet dish of dark day comfort food. A lightly fruited peasant dish of lamb, vegetables, and fruit is what came of that craving.

The recipe is enough for four ample serves, but if cooking just for two, follow our lead and turn the leftovers into a wickedly beautiful lamb pie.

Rustic Lamb and Pear Casserole

1.5 cups diced lamb
Cornflour (cornstarch)
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, chopped
4 small potatoes, in large dice
1 overripe pear, chopped
4 white mushrooms, sliced
1-2 cups broth or stock
1 tbsp blue gum honey (or other mild variety)
1 sprig each fresh mint, oregano, and sweet basil, coarsely chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely
3 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 200C (400F).

Dust the lamb in cornflour and just brown in a skillet, then set it aside and cover to preserve the steam.

Chop all the veggies and, in a small amount of oil or oil spray, lightly sautee onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes to mingle the flavors.

Sprinkle additional cornflour onto the cooked veggies and add one cup of broth and the honey. You can use any broth, really. I had a mix of chicken and lamb stock on hand. Stew vegetables until stock thickens to a light gravy, adding more broth as you see fit, seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stir in herbs, pears, and mushrooms, cooking for only a couple minutes. Add the full mixture, plus the lamb, into a large casserole dish. Bake for an hour, checking occasionally to see if more broth is needed.

Serve with thick slices of wholewheat bread and steamed greens or a crisp salad.


The W.O.W. factor said...

You know, I've never eaten lamb before....Cowboy loves it~if someone doesn't try to pass off mutton as lamb. Your casserole looks delicious really!

Just read your comment at Lacy's...are you two real life sisters? Awesome news for her and Joshua and I love her to pieces!

Kelly the City Mouse said...

I almost never had lamb before moving to Oz. It's everywhere here, and can be decently priced. I've become a bit of a fan :) I'm reeeally fighting the urge to bake the leftovers into meat pie tonight, but I have a hangup about serving the same thing two days in a row lol.

And yep, we're sisters. Technically half sisters. We have the same dad. She's almost exactly five years younger, with our bdays only two days apart. We didn't really grow up together though.

The W.O.W. factor said...

Awesome!!! So you are a November baby too!
There must have been a trait in your Dad that was passed on to the both of you, to be SO similar in your beliefs and dedication!!
Half a world apart, and yet your chosen destinies and plans are going down parallel paths!
No wonder I enjoy coming here so much!

Kelly the City Mouse said...

W.O.W. - Not sure if Lacy would agree, but Dad definitely has had an influence on all of this. He's always had a man-of-the-land air about him, and currently lives on a quiet mountainside with a good sized veggie patch, a pet pig, and spends most of his rare leisure time hiking, camping, canoeing, etc. He's also a former professional baker, and a good cook lol. So yeah. (Hi Dad, if you read this!)

I get a lot from my mother, too. She's a massive collector of cookbooks, and is always trying new (and often new-old) and tasty things, and she is far more into the (sub)urban lifestyle and has influenced my tastes and enjoyment of fine restaurants, beautiful things, home design, and a good luxury hotel now and then. She'd definitely rather smell the flowers and cook the veggies than grow them, but I think the influence of both parents, plus my stepdad, has led to my ease in rural and city surrounds. (Hi mumzy!)

A key difference between Lacy and myself is that I could never live far from a great, whopping city. ;) I need a good nearby ocean, too!

I'm really glad you do like coming here, so much!

Maggie ~:) said...

I just this year discovered I am in love with Lamb. It started with a lamb lasagna at a greek restaurant and was set in stone when I realized a lamb steak was cheaper than beef and just about the only thick cut of meat I could get at Fiesta. And holy CRAP it's great marinated in worchestershire and olive oil and grilled!

Kelly the City Mouse said...

Mags: Lamb is huge here. It's everywhere! People keep mint sauce in their cupboards like most folks keep ketchup, and there are kebab and yiros places on nearly every corner. It's crazy!

I think I like lamb best in curries like Rogan Josh. Try this recipe. It's soooooo yum.